WHO WE ARE
At Minch Malt we have been producing the highest quality malt from some of the country’s best barley since 1847. In that time we have learned a thing or two about making excellent malt. We combine centuries of tradition with the most up to date equipment and processes to produce malted barley that is used by Ireland’s leading craft brewers and distillers.
We are Ireland’s oldest and largest malt producer for the brewing and distilling industry. We produce malt from 100% Irish origin 2-row spring barley at our Athy Maltings, Co.Kildare where we apply rigorous quality control measures to ensure that every batch is of the consistently high standard that our customers have come to expect.
They say that variety is the spice of life and this is certainly true when it comes to malt. We produce a wide variety of malts, each of which has different uses and lends itself to a range of brews. This enables our customers to create the specialist flavours that make each of their drinks so unique and distinctive.
Click for more details below on any of the range of malts we supply:
At Minch Malt we believe that to produce the finest malt you need to surround yourself with the best people. We employ an expert multi-functional team, all of whom are passionate and committed to producing the highest quality malt.
With a vast amount of experience in the malting business, our managers are all dedicated malting barley specialists and are recognised within the industry as leaders in their field. Next time you enjoy a particularly satisfying alcoholic beverage, you may well have them to thank.
Producing the highest quality malt starts with the finest natural raw material.
Minch Malt has developed a leading world-class enclosed supply chain in malting barley where we ensure our customers of complete traceability from seed to glass. We supply our very own independently certified seed to over 600 of our approved growers, who grow and harvest malting barley across 8 different counties in Ireland. Come harvest time each of the 8000 loads of barley are analysed to ensure they meet our highest quality standard before being accepted as Minch Malt Malting Barley.
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The selection of 2-row spring malting barley seed varieties starts by using cutting edge breeding programs. These are supported by our own extensive research and innovation in conjunction with the Irish Department of Agriculture. Our malting barley varieties are approved by the Institute of Brewing and Distilling, as well as being formally tested and approved for suitability by the Department of Agriculture, creating national recommended lists for Malting Barley varieties annually.
We grow our malting barley C1 superior voluntary standard seed in partnership with 45 dedicated expert Irish seed producers, who have a history of excellence in seed production.
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Minch Malt has carefully selected over 600 of whom we believe to be the best growers on the finest lands in Ireland to produce our malting barley.
They grow 2-row spring barley varieties in Counties Kildare, Wexford, Wicklow, Carlow, Laois, Tipperary, Offaly and Kilkenny to world-class agronomy standards.
OUR EXPERT AGRONOMY TEAM
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Our Agronomy Team specifically tailors an agronomic package for each grower, which is aligned to Minch Malt and Teagasc recommended best practice. This ensures that the highest possible quality malting barley is produced for our malting in Athy on a consistent basis, year in year out.
Throughout the growing season the Agronomy Team visits the malting barley growers at regular intervals to ensure that best practice is implemented at critical growth stages. To further this knowledge transfer, focus groups, field evenings, trials open days, crop reports and SMS messaging are utilised to deliver updates on crop husbandry when required.
The responsibility for achieving the highest quality from the selected varieties rests on the shoulders of our dedicated Malting Barley Agronomy Team. Our team has over 150 years of experience in the production of sustainable quality malting barley.
RESEARCH & INNOVATION
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To ensure that our Agronomy Team has the latest information and techniques in agronomy, Minch Malt has an extensive Research and Innovation program, supported by the Faculty of Agriculture, University College Dublin, Ireland, which is designed to deliver environmental and economic sustainability through over 1,450 replicated plots, investigating various husbandry methods which lead to best practice in malting barley production.
Minch Malt is committed to minimising the impact that our business has on the environment, enhancing the community and improving the economic return to our farm families by using sustainable processes and helping to protect and preserve Ireland’s natural resources. We are proud to be a fully verified member of Origin Green, Ireland’s national sustainability programme, which uses the Sustainable Agricultural Initiative as its key driver to deliver sustainability.
We are also FEMAS registered and REPAK compliant.
One of the unique advantages of the Maltings in Athy is the flexibility it can give to the customer in terms of batch sizes. It has two malting plants, the Norton Malting Plant, which produces large batches of malt but still uses traditional Saladin boxes for germination, with a double deck kiln and the Boby Malting Plant, which produces small batches of malt and has conical steeps, circular germination vessels and a single deck kiln, which is perfect for unique once off batches of smaller batch size to suit the needs of a craft brewer or distiller.
AN IRISH MALTING PLANT WITH WORLD-CLASS STANDARDS
It takes world-class standards to produce world-class malt. At the Maltings in Athy we adhere to the very highest standards of quality, safety and efficiency. We are proud to have achieved the following ISO accreditations:
OUR DEDICATED QUALITY CONTROL TEAM
Quality is paramount in everything we do and we are dedicated to producing the highest quality malt. Our quality control team leaves nothing to chance – from in-depth analysis of every single load of barley taken into the maltings during the harvest period, through to malting process analysis and final off kiln malt analysis on every batch produced, with certificates of analysis being created for every batch of malt delivered to all brewers and distillers.
3 steps to the perfect malt
CONCENTRATE. HERE COMES THE SCIENCE BIT…
During the malting process the barley grain becomes malt grain following biochemical and biophysical changes in the grain which render it suitable for milling, mashing and wort production. The 3 steps to making the perfect malt haven’t changed much over time but how we do it certainly has. Today our malt is produced using state of the art equipment and processes.
STEP 1 – STEEPING
First the barley is steeped in water – the most important part of the malting process. This serves the dual purpose of cleaning the barley and hydrating the barley embryo sufficiently to stimulate respiration and initiate development.
A series of wet and dry periods are applied to the barley to increase the moisture content of the grain from approximately 14.5% to 45%. As respiration begins, the wet phase ensures even distribution of oxygen to the grain and the dry phase ensures adequate time for the grain to absorb the water and prevent CO2 build up.
STEP 2 – GERMINATION
Once the moisture content has reached the desired level, the barley is then transferred from the steeping vessel to the germination vessel, where it spends a number of days growing under very controlled conditions. Humidified air is forced through the grain bed to ensure that the grain does not dry out too much during germination.
The moisture content of the grain is constantly checked and adjusted, via spraying if necessary, to ensure consistent germination throughout the batch. The grain continues to grow, with the rootlets beginning to show and the acrospire (young shoot) travelling up towards the top of the grain, an indication of how well the modification process of the protein and starch inside the grain is taking place.
Throughout the germination process, the “green malt” is regularly checked by the Head Maltster, including the infamous “maltster’s rub” which gives a good indication of how modification is taking place. When modification is complete, the green malt will rub easily with a soft, flourlike texture throughout. At this point, the grain is now in a state that allows the brewer and distiller to easily access the valued extract during the mashing process.
STEP 3 – KILNING
Once germination is complete the green malt is transferred to the kiln, where it is dried. The main objectives of kilning are to stop the germination process, remove moisture in the grain down to a suitable moisture content for safe storage, to stabilise the enzymes produced during germination and to impart essential characteristics of the finished malt, such as moisture, colour and flavour.
During the kilning process free drying takes place, initially, where moisture from the surface of the grain is removed by blowing air at low temperatures and high air flow up through the bed. This ensures the survival of the enzymes contained in the grain so that the brewer and distiller can reactivate them again during the mashing process. Free drying reduces the moisture in the grain down to approximately 25%. Forced drying is the next stage, where water migrates from the centre of the grain to the surface at higher temperatures At the end of this stage, the moisture is less than 10%.
The final stage in the kilning process is curing, where moisture is reduced to less than 5% and the grain can be safely stored until requested by the brewer or distiller. The curing stage is where the majority of flavours, aromas and colour are produced. Varying the amount of drying time, temperature and other methods, like roasting, enable us to create variations in the flavour and colour of the malt to produce our specialty malts such as caramalt, crystal and chocolate to name but a few.
Master brewers and distillers know that the best beer and whiskey starts with the best barley and there’s certainly no shortage of that around here. The rich farmlands of Kildare and the surrounding counties of Wexford, Wicklow, Carlow, Laois and Kilkenny have been recognised for centuries as providing ideal growing conditions for barley, which is arguably the best in Ireland. Athy, which is ideally situated near a ford over the river Barrow, with its fertile, well-drained soil, has long enjoyed a reputation as the “malting capital of Ireland”.
Originally the barley grown here was used for feeding animals and people. Malting barley became popular when beer and bread became the staple foods of medieval folk (not much has changed there then).
A GODLY TRADITION
Medieval monks appreciated the use of barley for making beer. In fact, Kildare’s local monks and monasteries were among the earliest brewers, as far back as the 13th century. When the monasteries were dissolved in the 1540s, malting and brewing became cottage industries, which were later replaced by large scale malting firms.
THE ORIGINS OF MINCH MALT
The Minch name has been synonymous with County Kildare and also with malting since the mid-19th century. It all began when Matthew Minch, a tenant farmer from Portersize, Ballitore, opened his first malting business in Athy in around 1845. Although he didn’t come from a wealthy background, Minch proved that hard work, passion and dedication go a long way. Within 2 years he had acquired two further small malting premises located in Stanhope Street and Offaly Street in Athy. In 1921 Minch merged his malting business with that of P.R. Norton, a maltster with premises in the adjoining counties of Carlow, Laois and Kilkenny and the new company was called Minch Norton. Today, Minch Malt is registered in Ireland as Minch Malt Ltd and is owned by parent company Boortmalt whose headquarters is in Antwerp, Belgium.
Almost two centuries later, while much has changed, many things remain the same. The barley in this neck of the woods is still every bit as good and the Minch name maintains its excellent reputation. We are still located at the same site beside the Grand Canal, which was used as the main gateway for transporting barley throughout Ireland in those days. Although fortunately for us, the malting process is now much more sophisticated, with highly technical state of the art equipment and processes, which enable us to continue to produce the same great quality malt, and with transport now by road, it gets to you that bit quicker.
- The Maltings, Athy, Co. Kildare, Ireland
- Tel: +353 (0) 59 8640305